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9. B. 3.
Resolution to Amend the Standing Rules of the Calhoun County Board of Commission
Jim Dyer, Corporation Counsel, Corporation Counsel
Resolved, that the Calhoun County Board of Commissioners adopts an amendment to its Standing Board Rule Number Two concerning the Open Meeting Act, as presented, to create a new Section 2.7, to provide for a procedure permitting a member absent for military service to participate, vote and receive public comment, as required by PA 485 of 2018.
County Administration and the Corporation Counsel recomend adoption of the resolution. The procedure recommended for adoption by the resolution is mandated by an amendment to Section 3 of the Open Meeting act that took effect on March 29, 2019. Though no current member of the Commission is subject to military duty orders that would immediately require an absence from attending Board meetings, it is recommended that the current rules be amended now, to comply with the statutory change, and establish the applicable policy before the need presents itself.
PA 485 of 2018, amended the Michigan Open Meeting Act. It mandated that all public bodies establish a procedure that would accommodate a member of that public body, physically unable to attend a meeting due to military duty, by permitting attendance and voting by any means possible, and preferably through two-way communication. It also requires a procedure to permit the public to provide, and the member to receive public comment on matters pending before that public body.
Unfortunately, the staff analysis and other legislative history leading up to enactment of PA 485 of 2018, do not provide much insight into why this amendment was enacted, or exactly what problem the amendment is intended to address. The amendment also provides no guidance as to exactly what procedures would be acceptable, and compliant with the amendment. The problem is further compounded by the variability of military orders, and overseas deployment locations and conditions, which prohibit adoption of a "one size fits all" solution that might not be appropriate or applicable in all circumstances.
Accordingly, the proposed amendment to Standing Board Rule Number two establishes a process for resolving this need as it is presented. By modifying the means of providing voting access to the member impacted by military service, and appropriate notice to the general public about how they can interact with a member on active military duty concerning issues that will come before the public body. The statute contemplates the adoption of binding Board Rules, and not the current whim of the administration, or the potentially unreasonable desires of a particular member of the general public when a member must be absent form a meeting due to military orders.
It is also worth noting that PA 485 of 2018, did not modify the quorum requirements of a public body or dictate that a member on military duty must also be counted as part of a quorum threshold. Generally, presence for a quorum requires actual physical presence at the meeting. Since PA 485 is silent on this subject, it must be presumed that the normal presumption favoring physical presence was considered by and adopted by the state legislature
None. Adoption of the policy in some form is mandatory. The proposed Policy amendment is drafted for maximum flexibility in complying with Act 485. The Board may consider proposed amendments, but ultimately adoption of a policy is required.
County Administration and the Corporation Counsel recommend adoption of the resolution establishing a standing board rule on how to address members who may be absent for military duty. The procedure recommended by the resolution is mandated by an amendment to Section 3 of the Open Meeting act that took effect on March 29, 2019.
Amended Section 3 of the OMA
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